Mindfulness Quotes

This page contains a selection of quotes regarding the topics of mindfulness and meditation I've noted from things that I've read and found meaningful.

Quote Attribution
"It gets easier. Every day, it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day – that’s the hard part. But it does get easier." Jogging Baboon from the TV show Bojack Horseman
"Like children playing with toys in a burning house, we do not like to look at the pain and suffering in our lives. We put the old and sick away in homes so we don't have to see their sorrow. We chase beggars off the street so we don't see the affliction of poverty. We dress up corpses as if they were going to a party, never confronting the face of death. The first noble truth is the truth of suffering. It does no good to pretend that it does not exist. No matter how we obscure it, the body is going to get old and diseased. It is going to die. No matter how many distractions we are entertained with, there will be anger and ill will and frustration and anxiety and tension. We burn with anger, burn with desire." Joseph Goldstein
"Every day, whatever you do, you trade a day of your life for it." Wisdom Wide and Deep by Shaila Catherine
"Familiarity can make the most obvious things invisible if we do not know their significance." Wisdom Wide and Deep by Shaila Catherine
"Just as a young pregnant woman would consider the well-being of her baby while going about her activities-protecting it from harm while she worked, thinking of it while sitting, considering its nourishment while eating-a wise meditator will guard the meditation object in all activities and at all times." Wisdom Wide and Deep by Shaila Catherine
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1 - 13:3
"Experiencing joy while breathing in,
he trains himself.
Experiencing joy while breathing out,
he trains himself.

Experiencing pleasure while breathing in,
he trains himself.
Experiencing pleasure while breathing out,
he trains himself.
Anapanasati Sutta
"Let go of your heart
Let go of your head
And feel it now"
"Babylon" by David Gray
"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, "Little Gidding"
"Confusion clouds the heart,
but it also points the way.
Quiet down the mind,
the more the song will play."
"You Can't Rush Your Healing" by Trevor Hall
"Sooner or later we all end up acting as if a seam separates friend and foe. When we get too used to this, we believe that this seam really exists. Poor and rich, important and unimportant-none of that exists. It's only glitter on the waves." Kodo Sawaki Roshi
"There is nothing to be, nothing to do, nothing to have." Unattributed quote from The Experience of Insight by Joseph Goldstein
"The biggest obstacles to settling back are attachments to self images and concepts of who we are and how we want to be." Joseph Goldstein
"The way you do one thing is the way you do everything." Unknown
"Some of the best days are when the map has been lost
and the plans have been thrown away.
Besides, that's what answering machines are for."
"Waste Some Time" by The Paperboys
"In every moment the mind-body process, our entire universe, is arising and passing away, dying and being reborn." Joseph Goldstein
"Once we perceive, we habitually jump to thoughts and feelings about what is being perceived. These thoughts and feelings, rooted in past experiences and conditioning, then influence the mood of our mind. When perception, thoughts, and feelings are repeated or imprinted through experiences, they solidify into view or belief." Ruth King
"Always seeking pleasant sounds and sights, agreeable smells, delicious tastes, and pleasant sensations of the body. The endless seeking of momentary, fragmentary pleasures. We are attracted to them as if they will solve our problems, as if they will bring an end to suffering. We live our lives waiting for the next two-week vacation, the next relationship, some new object to 'own': waiting with desire for some new happiness always just out of reach." Joseph Goldstein
"Sensory events are like a lake. Awareness is like a flashlight.

The surface of the water represents the part of sensory event that’s conscious. The water just below the surface represents the parts of the sensory event that are peripherally conscious. The mid-depth water represents sub-conscious neural processing. The water at the bottom of the lake represents unconscious neural processing.

Directing the flashlight towards a spot on the surface of the lake effects all four levels simultaneously.

What’s on the surface becomes much clearer than it ordinarily is. What’s just below now becomes as clear as the surface had been. What was subconscious now becomes peripherally conscious. What was utterly unconscious now becomes somewhat conscious.

Thus the subconscious/unconscious levels of processing get to know themselves a bit better. You (the observer directing the flashlight) still cannot directly see all levels but some photons of clarity have trickled down, giving those levels what they need to untie their own knots.

It’s quite common for people to report that during formal practice, nothing much seems to happen. Yet they notice spontaneous and permanent improvements in perception and behavior in daily life. The penetration (or trickle down) paradigm described here is one way to explain why that happens."

Shinzen Young
Siddhartha listened. He was now nothing but a listener, completely concentrated on listening, completely empty, he felt, that he had now finished learning to listen. Often before, he had heard all this, these many voices in the river, today it sounded new. Already, he could no longer tell the many voices apart, not the happy ones from the weeping ones, not the ones of children from those of men, they all belonged together, the lamentation of yearning and the laughter of the knowledgeable one, the scream of rage and the moaning of the dying ones, everything was one, everything was intertwined and connected, entangled a thousand times. And everything together, all voices, all goals, all yearning, all suffering, all pleasure, all that was good and evil, all of this together was the world. All of it together was the flow of events, was the music of life. And when Siddhartha was listening attentively to this river, this song of a thousand voices, when he neither listened to the suffering nor the laughter, when he did not tie his soul to any particular voice and submerged his self into it, but when he heard them all, perceived the whole, the oneness, then the great song of the thousand voices consisted of a single word, which was Om: the perfection. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
"Tao called Tao is not Tao.

Names can name no lasting name.

Nameless: the origin of heaven and earth.
Naming: the mother of ten thousand things.

Empty of desire, perceive mystery.
Filled with desire, perceive manifestations.

These have the same source, but different names.

Call them both deep-Deep and again deep: The gateway to all mystery.
Tao Te Ching
"Recognize beauty and ugliness is born.
Recognize good and evil is born.

Is and Isn't produce each other.

Hard depends on easy,
Long is tested by short,
High is determined by low,
Sound is harmonized by voice,
After is followed by before.

Therefore the Sage is devoted to non-action,
Moves without teaching,
Creates ten thousand things without instructions,
Lives but does not own,
Acts but does not presume,
Accomplishes without taking credit.

When no credit is taken,
Accomplishment endures.

Tao Te Ching
"This idea in the back of your mind that your life would be much better if you could just eliminate a few of the worst things is an endless trap. If you continue to let this idea stay in your thoughts it will certainly continue to make you unhappy, for it can never come true, and if you think about it for a moment you will be forced to admit this. Your world, at least your world as it stands now, is like this patch of thorns, and no amount of wishing can make it a bed of soft grass." Excerpt from "The Garden" by Geshe Michael Roach
"The thought is the thinker." Joseph Goldstein
"Destroy the ego?...The great difficulty here is that there isn't ont." Wei Wa Wei
"It's probably when you're willing to let go of all of your hopes and fears around accomplishing anything, being anyone, attaining any level that the practice can really work its magic." Pamela Gayle White
"This is what is referred to as the 'emptiness' of all phenomena. The objects of consciousness arising and passing away in the mind are like waves rising and disappearing on the ocean's surface. Just as the waves have no existence apart from the ocean, arising due to forces acting on the ocean, so, too, with the contents of consciousness and the mind." The Mind Illuminated by John Yates
"All we can ever observe is the mental object, a product of the mind itself-not the source of the original stimulus. To put it another way, the 'thing-in-itself' that stimulated the mind to produce the object can never be observed. The mind creates its own 'reality,' made entirely of cognitive-emotional constructs produced in response to unknown, and ultimately unknowable, 4 forces acting on the mind through the senses." The Mind Illuminated by John Yates
"Awakening is an accident, but meditating on the mind is a practice that will make you accident-prone." The Mind Illuminated by John Yates
"It is especially important not to be deceived by mere intellectual understanding. You may think you "got it" just by reading this description. However, many philosophers and scientists have understood this truth intellectually, but it hasn't transformed them. We haven't gotten it until this Insight completely transforms the way we perceive the world-especially during challenging times, like when we're in an argument with our boss or partner, in a traffic jam, or when our house burns down." The Mind Illuminated by John Yates
"We can be fully present as persons, here and now, realizing that this 'personhood' is just an ever-changing, Selfless construct arbitrarily impost on an interconnected whole; 'here' is merely another construct imposed on infinite space, and 'now' is a similar construct imposed on eternity." The Mind Illuminated by John Yates
"Here is something true: one day you will be dead.

Here is something false: you only live once.

It takes about 7 years to master something. If you live to be 88, after age 11, you have 11 opportunities to be great at something.

These are your lifetimes. Most people never let themselves die.

Some are afraid of death. Some think they are already ghosts. But you have many lives.

Spend a life writing poems.

Spend another building things.

Spend a life looking for facts.

And another looking for truth.

These are your lifetimes. Use them."
Extracted from a comic by Zach Weinersmith. https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/2012-09-02
"The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha—which is to demean oneself." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"Quality is the continuing stimulus which causes us to create the world in which we live. All of it. Every last bit of it. Religion isn’t invented by man. Men are invented by religion. Men invent responses to Quality, and among these responses is an understanding of what they themselves are." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"What is seen now so much more clearly is that although the names keep changing and the bodies keep changing, the larger pattern that holds us all together goes on and on." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"When analytic thought, the knife, is applied to experience, something is always killed in the process. That is fairly well understood, at least in the arts. Mark Twain's experience comes to mind, in which, after he had mastered the analytic knowledge needed to pilot the Mississippi River, he discovered the river had lost its beauty. Something is always killed. But what is less noticed in the arts-something is always created too. And instead of just dwelling on what is killed it's important also to see what's created and to see the process as a kind of death-birth continuity that is neither good nor bad, but just is." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"Technology presumes there's just one right way to do things and there never is. And when you presume there's just one right way to do things, of course the instructions begin and end exclusively with the rotisserie. But if you have to choose among an infinite number of ways to put it together then the relation of the machine to you, and the relation of the machine and you to the rest of the world, has to be considered, because the selection from among many choices, the art of the work is just as dependent upon your own mind and spirit as it is upon the material of the machine." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"Now, to take that which has caused us to create the world, and include it within the world we have created, is clearly impossible. That is why Quality cannot be defined. If we do define it we are defining something less than Quality itself." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"Stuckness shouldn't be avoided. It's the psychic predecessor of all real understanding. An egoless acceptance of stuckness is a key to an understanding of all Quality, in mechanical work as in other endeavors. It's this understanding of Quality as revealed by stuckness which so often makes self-taught mechanics so superior to institute-trained men who have learned how to handle everything except a new situation." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"The way to solve the conflict between human values and technological needs is not to run away from technology. That's impossible. The way to resolve the conflict is to break down the barriers of dualistic thought that prevent a real understanding of what technology is-not an exploitation of nature, but a fusion of nature and the human spirit into a new kind of creation that transcends both. When this transcendence occurs in such events as the first airplane flight across the ocean or the first footstep on the moon, a kind of public recognition of the transcendent nature of technology occurs. But this transcendence should also occur at the individual level, on a personal basis, in one’s own life, in a less dramatic way." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"Then his mind's eye looked up and caught his own image and realized where he was and what he was seeing and... I don't know what really happened... but now the slippage that Phaedrus had felt earlier, the internal parting of his mind, suddenly gathered momentum, as do the rocks at the top of a mountain. Before he could stop it, the sudden accumulated mass of awareness began to grow and grow into an avalanche of thought and awareness out of control; with each additional growth of the downward tearing mass loosening hundreds of times its volume, and then that mass uprooting hundreds of times its volume more, and then hundreds of times that; on and on, wider and broader; until there was nothing left to stand. No more anything. It all gave way from under him." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
"We arrive at the turnoff to Crater Lake and go up a neat road into the National Park-clean, tidy and preserved. It really shouldn't be any other way, but this doesn't win any prizes for Quality either. It turns it into a museum. This is how it was before the white man came-beautiful lava flows, and scrawny trees, and not a beer can anywhere-but now that the white man is here, it looks fake. Maybe the National Park Service should set just one pile of beer cans in the middle of all that lava and then it would come to life. The absence of beer cans is distracting." Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance